Wednesday, February 18, 2015

On Petitions

For the uninformed, a petition was started in the wake of the recent "Gamer" Law and Order SVU.

I recommend reading it if you want a good laugh.

This petition places the blame for the episode on the likes of Polygon and Kotaku.

Now, for those that haven't seen the episode:  yes, it's bad.  It's as uninformed as you'd expect from a 45 minute TV show trying to cram in some pretty reprehensible things.  The arc of the show was limited and the whole thing basically took things to a ridiculous extreme (though, if the threats to Breanna Wu are any indication...).

But what the petition fails to really grasp is the concept of yellow journalism. To borrow Frank Luther Mott, a historian and journalist, defined yellow journalism in 1941 as:
  1. scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news
  2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
  3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
  4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips
  5. dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.
To call Kotaku or Polygon's coverage as "Yellow Journalism" is to create a pretty fuzzy distinction between two things that actually have some pretty strong distinctions.  You could, maybe, present the case for number 1, and number 4 doesn't apply, but from their coverage, Kotaku and Polygon have not delved into 2 or 3 unless you take the "GG" crowd at their word, which given their behavior, would be an exceptionally stupid thing to do.

To quote Inigo Montoya:  "You keep using this word, I do not think it means what you think it means."

Shooting the messenger is the easy way out.  It allows the receiver to ignore the repercussions of the events which effect them.  It is no different than a child throwing a tantrum, standing with their fingers in their ears and yelling.

If games and game culture are to be taken seriously in the larger mass media culture, then being able to address the foibles of the culture are a requirement.

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